Using high-caffeine drinks to supercharge athletic performance is nothing new. Whether it’s a pre-workout, an energy drink, or a cup of coffee, they all work towards a common goal—boost energy to help you smash your workout.
And while caffeine has been shown to boost exercise performance and enhance results, energy drinks and exercise don’t always mix well.
If you’ve contemplated reaching for an energy drink to help you push through your workout, we’re giving you the top reasons it’s not a good idea—and what to take instead.
What Are Energy Drinks?
Energy drinks are precisely as they sound—a class of beverages intended to boost energy, focus, and concentration. While consumed by people of all ages, the vast majority of energy drink consumption happens by younger people and, more recently, people about to hit the gym.
Although some natural energy drinks effectively boost energy levels, they contain high doses of caffeine to stimulate brain function and increase focus while reducing fatigue.
While that may not seem like such a bad thing, the level is what gets you—they’re not only filled with mega-doses of caffeine but also sugar, B vitamins, amino acid derivatives, herbal extracts, taurine, and more. And with the addition of things like guarana, yerba mate, and cocoa, you’re further increasing caffeine concentration 1
Evidence suggests that the consumption of energy drinks has been implicated in many cases of heart problems, which means a trip to the emergency room 2.
Just how many? Over 20,000 in the United States alone 3. That could be partially because energy drinks may increase blood pressure and heart rate and decrease blood vessel function markers.
But on top of potentially harmful ingredients, there are three main reasons you want to avoid energy drinks before a workout.
3 Reasons To Avoid Energy Drinks
1. Excessive Caffeine
While caffeine can help with exercise performance, there’s a fine line for just how beneficial it is. There’s a fair bit of evidence backing the benefit of caffeine for endurance performance when taken in moderate amounts and increasing time to fatigue for high-intensity activity 4-6.
However, when it comes to strength gains, the evidence is mixed, with some studies suggesting it’s beneficial for improving maximal strength and power and others suggesting it doesn’t affect outcomes 7-9.
But the problem with energy drinks is that most contain mega-doses of caffeine, which are counterproductive for exercise performance. Several studies have demonstrated low-moderate doses of caffeine (3 to 6 mg/kg body weight) to improve workout performance.
Still, higher amounts of caffeine (9–13 mg/kg body weight) don’t result in any additional improvement in performance 10. They increase the incidence and magnitude of caffeine-related side effects like anxiety, jitters, nervousness, and nausea.
2. High Sugar
One of the most common ingredients in energy drinks, behind caffeine, is sugar. Although it may add to your caffeine buzz, sugar doesn’t do much for your performance or recovery.
High levels of sugar mean wonky blood glucose and unnecessary calories. Although several energy drinks market “sugar-free” on their labels, the high-calorie content still contributes to excess energy intake and fat deposition.
And while we’ve all heard fat is terrible for us and contributes to obesity (which isn’t the case), it’s sugar that does. So, while you’re working your butt off for a sexy body, the sugar in your energy drink is counteracting all of your hard work.
3. Artificial Everything
If they don’t have sugar in the form of glucose or fructose, chances are they have it in the form of an artificial sweetener. These are produced in a lab setting and are anything but natural, but they also wreak havoc on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
The body doesn’t recognize the difference between natural sugar and artificial sweeteners, so the pancreas releases insulin to move sugar into the bloodstream.
But because there is no sugar to move, insulin levels in the blood increase and eventually lead to decreased insulin receptor activity and insulin resistance 11.
The Best Option: Pre Lab Pro®
If you’re looking to turbocharge your workout with the drawbacks of conventional energy drinks, Pre Lab Pro® is the only option. It’s an ultramodern pre-workout supplement designed to take your training to the next level using only natural ingredients.
It skillfully stacks the most potent, scientifically-backed ingredients to unlock synergy and enhance athletic performance.
With moderate-dose caffeine, Pre Lab Pro® sparks a 2X muscle-pumping nitric oxide (NOx) turbocharge + afterburn for all-around athletics. And with the addition of hydrating factors and restorative essentials, there’s no need to worry about overdoing it with caffeine.
It’s the smartest way to enhance your workout and results naturally.
- Ishak WW, Ugochukwu C, Bagot K, Khalili D, Zaky C. Energy drinks: psychological effects and impact on well-being and quality of life-a literature review. Innov Clin Neurosci. 2012;9(1):25-34.
- Goldfarb M, Tellier C, Thanassoulis G. Review of published cases of adverse cardiovascular events after ingestion of energy drinks. Am J Cardiol. 2014;113(1):168-172.
- Mattson ME. Update on Emergency Department Visits Involving Energy Drinks: A Continuing Public Health Concern. In: The CBHSQ Report. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); January 10, 2013.1-7.
- Southward K, Rutherfurd-Markwick KJ, Ali A. The Effect of Acute Caffeine Ingestion on Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (published correction appears in Sports Med. 2018 Aug 9;:). Sports Med. 2018;48(8):1913-1928.
- Talanian JL, Spriet LL. Low and moderate doses of caffeine late in exercise improve performance in trained cyclists. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016;41(8):850-855.
- Smirmaul BP, de Moraes AC, Angius L, Marcora SM. Effects of caffeine on neuromuscular fatigue and performance during high-intensity cycling exercise in moderate hypoxia. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017;117(1):27-38.
- Giráldez-Costas V, González-García J, Lara B, Coso JD, Wilk M, Salinero JJ. Caffeine Increases Muscle Performance During a Bench Press Training Session. J Hum Kinet. 2020;74:185-193.
- Wilk M, Krzysztofik M, Filip A, Zajac A, Del Coso J. The Effects of High Doses of Caffeine on Maximal Strength and Muscular Endurance in Athletes Habituated to Caffeine (published correction appears in Nutrients. 2019 Nov 04;11(11):). Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1912.
- Fogaça LJ, Santos SL, Soares RC, et al. Effect of caffeine supplementation on exercise performance, power, markers of muscle damage, and perceived exertion in trained CrossFit men: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2020;60(2):181-188.
- Mielgo-Ayuso J, Marques-Jiménez D, Refoyo I, Del Coso J, León-Guereño P, Calleja-González J. Effect of Caffeine Supplementation on Sports Performance Based on Differences Between Sexes: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2313.
- Mathur K, Agrawal RK, Nagpure S, Deshpande D. Effect of artificial sweeteners on insulin resistance among type-2 diabetes mellitus patients. J Family Med Prim Care. 2020;9(1):69-71.